Weekly round up: Some articles on “No”

Sales post; sales blog; sales blogs;
Some interesting reads with a focus on the dreaded word: “No”

Photo credit: nicoleneu1

Here are three posts I came across recently and found interesting and worth sharing. Strangely, two of these posts have a theme, a word that all sales people and business owners do not like: the dreaded word “No”…

1- “The answer to this question will make your sales skyrocket”. This is a very interesting article about a very simple question that can be asked to improve a sales process. You can find all details here but, in short, the question is: “What made you nearly say: No”. This question asked to actual customers is powerful in helping to understand what they went through during the process, what made them nearly walk away and, consequently, find what need to improve to avoid it. You could even think of it as a sort of NPS, Net Promoter Score or an NBS, Nearly-not Buyer Survey

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How to get a good sales stack in place

sales process; decision; driving decision
Sales technologies. Just like bales. They need to be stacked, not lying scattered

Photo credit: Kristofor McGreevy

I’ve just been through a hectic period, implementing sales processes and developing value proposition for technology companies. And admittedly I’ve had very little time writing… I am still fascinated to see how many technologies go to market with a value proposition that is focused on their technology and product rather than the problems they address. But marketing value proposition isn’t the focus of this blog.  I’ll focus on something known as sales stack. “Sales what?” do I hear you say. Good question. Let me take one step back.

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When talking about your product to prospects can put you in trouble…

Sales, question, questioning, process, spilling the beans
When you sale, do you spill the beans? Or do you ask question?

Photo credit: Phil

Greeks invented the democracy. And they had an interesting way of voting. They used beans. A white bean was a vote in favour of a motion, a black bean was a vote against. The vote had to be unanimous for the motion to go through. So should the jar with the bean topples and the beans fall down, revealing a black bean, it meant something had been revealed too early and the vote had to restart. Hence the expression spilling the beans…

Well, nearly…

This expression might not be entirely due to the Greek way of voting (it isn’t). But spilling the beans certainly applies to how we sale. And how we, sales people, love to share product knowledge when we should hold back.

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Weekly round up: posts on sales process, pricing and training

Sales post; sales blog; sales blogs;
Some interesting reads on process, pricing and training

Photo credit: nicoleneu1

Here is a brief round of interesting posts I have read, found particularly good and thought they were worth sharing.

First of all, a post from David Brock about the companies that believe they have a sales process but, actually, simply don’t. What I like beyond David rather dry sense of humour (notably on things like “gurus” in Linkedin), is the probing of companies that believe they have a process when, actually, it is not being followed or need some updating. The post is here.

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Three rules for good (or roughly decent) Linkedin profiles

Linkedin, linkedin profile, social selling, sales,
Is your IoT PaaS API in the cloud? Or does it actually address problems?

Photo credit: Hey_aventur

Hello, do you search for a PaaS that can make sure your multi-dimensional marketing strategy optimised in the cloud?

Are you still here? Wow, I am impressed. I would have switched off if I were you (don’t, I stop the jargon now!). And yet, this is what more often than not we find in both marketing literature and social/LI profiles. Technical jargons used for the purpose of (let’s not kid ourselves) selling either ourselves or the organisation we work for (even if we are not working in sales, more on this further down). Yet, as I’ve already mentioned (ad nauseam I would even say) the main reason people buy is to address problems they have. That’s what matters to them. At the risk of making you yawn, dear reader, we also know that it’s all about being social nowadays. And about creating engaging content. Right. It’s all well known isn’t? So we are all producing engaging content in our social profile that presents the problems addressed? Well, sadly, not quite so. Hence missing a good opportunity to get engaging (or less disengaging) profile content out there. I often come across very, very complex profiles on Linkedin that are presenting in length the technology at the heart of the service of their organisation. Here is a random example (click on picture for more details):

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How to identify the real problems people have, not just those expressed.

problems, expressed problems, real problem, solution sale, questions, sales questions
That’s a problem we’ve all had. But what was the real impact?

Photo credit: Andreas Overland

It was Friday afternoon. It was sunny. And I was just walking out of a meeting with a prospect with a big smile on my face. The prospect I just met had shared with me all her problems. It was all there in my notes. It was covering all these important business problems. She didn’t have the analytics on her marketing effort. Her company was selling online but she wasn’t clear what was the products that had the best ratio between visits and actual transactions. And many other very specific marketing analytics problems. And I knew how to solve all these issues with a great piece of tech I was selling. That weekend was to be a good one as I felt I was on my way to secure the deal.

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Why questions asked need to be qualified first and how to do so

Question, reverse questioning, sales questions, process
He knows the answer. But shouldn’t he qualify the question first?

Photo credit: personal stock

School days. Happy days. Lots of memories. The exuberance. The total lack of worries. School friends. Long school holidays spent in the South of France. The teachers I loved. Those I, well, didn’t like at all. And these happy moments when, as the teacher asked a question, I knew the answer, raised my hand and was just so eager to share my knowledge with the teacher and my class mates.

Sadly though, I came to realise that this eagerness to answer questions was a terrible habit we picked at school and that it was well worth trying to control this urge. Surprisingly (or not), when asked a question, there is a lot of value in not answering it, right away. I’ve already mentioned that one should learn to ask questions, they are very useful. So I can hear you think, dear reader. “Foul play! Unfair! Why not answer questions asked, when one asks plenty of them?” This is a good point indeed. I naturally do not mean not to answer questions at all. What I mean is one needs to understand better the real question that is being asked, not necessarily the one heard. Here are four reasons why one should do so and one framework I use:

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Prospecting flow. How to avoid the death valley?

Prospecting, Valley of death, sales process, call flow
You do not have to walk through the valley of death when prospecting or following up.

Photo credit: Pacheco

Have you seen this slide that is regularly doing the rounds on LinkedIn presenting the amount of time a sales person needs to follow-up with a prospect to get a deal and how many sales people stops too quickly.

You can’t have missed it. It comes back over and over again and is coming from the so-called  “National Sales Executive Association”? Well, if you didn’t know already: it is a fake. The NSEA simply doesn’t exist. But this slide seems to make the point there is value in chasing to secure a sale. Is there some sort of ground beyond this fact? Are sales people who do chase, don’t hear back, carry on crossing what I call “the valley of death” courageously (it’s very silent in the valley of death….), are they the most efficient sales people? Or is it a myth. I think it is a myth. So, here is the prospecting flow I follow to make sure a lead or a prospect is a real one or one worth qualifying out:

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How to achieve predictable revenues – Video

Process, lead generation, sales, predictable revenues
That’s an easy process. For lead generation, what is yours?

Photo credit: Dave Gray

I am sometimes asked for some good books to read about sales. If the specific issue at hand is about prospecting, one which is worth knowing about is called “Predictable revenues” by Aaron Ross. It presents the lead generation process that has been implemented within SalesForce around 2004 and helped the company grow to $100,000Mn+. Prospecting is key for young businesses, especially as they can not rely on growing revenues from existing clients or referrals. Or for companies entering a new market. And as many other parts of a company operation, to have a process for prospecting is important (#understatement). The process described by Aaron would however not work for all companies and of course need to be adapted to the company it’s implemented at (companies are living creatures, none of them are identical). A couple of requirements the author details are that the methodology makes economic sense for companies who product and services have a ARR c. $10,000 and for those that have a proven product (i.e. not for those in a product market fit phase). So if you’ve passed that phase and consider scaling, I came across a presentation made by Alan O’Rourke that has been filmed and is a good introduction to the book. Alan is using this approach for Workcompass, a performance management software and author of 30 days to sell. A title that says it all!

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